Every child under ‘immediate threat’ from climate change, poor diet
PARIS : The world is failing to protect children from the health dangers posed by climate change and poor diet, a landmark UN report said yesterday, warning that every child is under "immediate threat".
According to more than 40 of the world's pre-eminent child and adolescent health experts, not one country is adequately protecting the next generation from the impacts of carbon emissions, the destruction of nature and high-calorie and processed foods.
They said excessive carbon emissions, produced overwhelmingly by wealthier nations, "threaten the future of all children" and will burden them with additional health dangers, from deadly heatwaves to the increased spread of tropical diseases.
The report, commissioned by the World Health Organisation and Unicef, also highlights the threat children face from harmful marketing of fat- and sugar-laden foods, alcohol and tobacco.
"The big message is that no single country is protecting children's health today and for their future," said international child health professor Anthony Costelloof the Institute for Global Health at University College London.
"When you look at the damage being done to children's lungs by air pollution, we've got a very limited time to sort this out," he said.
"We have the solutions, what we don't have is the political leadership and will to make it happen."
The report, published in The Lancet medical journal, ranks the performance of 180 countries when it comes to child survival, education and nutrition rates.
Under these criteria, less-developed nations such as Central African Republic and Chad perform particularly poorly compared to rich countries such as Norway and the Netherlands.
Around 250 million under-fives in low- and middle-income countries risk being stunted due to malnutrition and other impacts of poverty, the authors said.
At the same time, the number of obese children worldwide has surged 11-fold since 1975 to stand at 124 million.
Children in some countries see as many as 30,000 adverts on television in a single year.
And despite industry self-regulation, one study showed that children in Australia were exposed 51 million times to alcohol adverts in just one year of televised sport. - AFP